Don’t Hire Jeff Capel: The Second in the Don’t Hire Series

Jeff Capel is another “Coach K” flop.

Duke Basketball is held as the Gold Standard of Men’s Basketball and Mike Krzyzewski is regarded as one of the greatest Men’s Basketball Coaches of All Time.  However, his disciples have not achieved much success once they left Durham and struck out on their own.  Jeff Capel being an Assistant Coach at Duke does not mean anything new or improved should Capel wish to leave the nest.  There are too many assumptions about Capel and castles-in-the-sky built by those wanting Capel in Athens.  Nothing has been proven and here’s why Jeff Capel would be a colossal mistake.

1.  His roller-coaster at Oklahoma (a so-called Football School)

Jeff Capel was able to land the most talented player in the History of Oklahoma Basketball, Blake Griffin.  Griffin compared to the rest of his recruiting class was somewhat under-the-radar because he chose Oklahoma.  Griffin’s play in his two seasons at Oklahoma warranted a #1 Draft Pick.

Jeff Capel’s run at Oklahoma was unimpressive without Blake Griffin.  The 13 wins in 2009-10 were vacated due to the ineligibility of Keith “Tiny” Gallon, who is best remembered for this moment on New Year’s Eve 2009.  Oklahoma went 13-18 that season with a 4-12 conference record.

  • Jeff Capel at Oklahoma without Blake Griffin: 43-51.
  • Jeff Capel at Oklahoma with Blake Griffin: 53-18.

The season that followed also was a failure as Capel failed to capitalize on the momentum that Griffin would have provided and the program was put on NCAA probation in his wake.  Capel was not specifically implicated, but the NCAA violations happened under his watch.

Capel proved that just because your team has McDonald’s All-Americans (Gallon, Tommy Mason-Griffin, Willie Warren), it does not mean that your team is going to excel.  In 2009-10, he had three McDonald’s All-Americans and the team still finished 13-18.  Capel inherited a program that had NCAA limitations connected to the Kelvin Sampson era, but left the program with limitations because an Assistant Coach (Oronde Taliaferro) facilitated a loan from a Financial Adviser in Tampa, Florida.

Sounds familiar?  It’s awfully similar to Chuck Person and Bruce Pearl at Auburn, except nobody is going to jail for this.

Jeff Capel as a Head Coach at Oklahoma by the Advanced Metrics per Ken Pomeroy, it’s not that impressive.

2006-07

In his first season at Oklahoma, Capel’s team was definitely not as good as Dennis Felton’s best team in Athens.  They were certainly much slower in pace as well.

2007-08

This is Jeff Capel’s first season with Blake Griffin, he took them to the NCAA Tournament to be slaughtered by Louisville in the NCAA Tournament.  Oklahoma looked lethargic and was unable to handle Louisville’s press, it was like watching Georgia at the O’Connell Center.

Oklahoma’s offense was in the upper quartile of College Basketball and defensively the team was strong, but comparatively weaker than the previous season.  The pace picked up very slightly.

2008-09

Oklahoma’s peak under Jeff Capel.  The offense was extremely efficient and the defense was very efficient as well, the pace was relatively above-average.  The addition of Willie Warren to accompany Blake and Taylor Griffin along with the steady hand of Tony Crocker made this team one of the best in the country.

2009-10

Three McDonald’s All-Americans helped the offense become one of the most efficient in the country, but the defense was a complete disaster.  The pace slowed relative to the rest of the country.  This is life without Blake Griffin.

2010-11

The pace slowed, the offense worsened and the talent level fell off after the “Tiny” Gallon issues.

Mark Fox peaked with Trey Thompkins and Travis Leslie in his second season with them and then went downhill despite having an SEC Player of the Year in Kentavious Caldwell-Pope in 2013.  Fox went through a plateau wishy-washy bubblicious era from 2013-14 through 2016-17, then everything went downhill even with the SEC Player of the Year in Yante Maten this season.

2.  Coach K Disciples Struggle on the College Ranks

There’s only one consistent success who comes from the Mike Krzyzewski Coaching Tree.

Johnny Dawkins

Steve Wojciechowski

Chris Collins

Quin Snyder

Tommy Amaker

When in a power conference, Amaker was good, but not good enough.

David Henderson

Mike Brey

Brey had to find his own way and he did, he is the best performing Mike Krzyzewski assistant.  Brey would have been the UGA Men’s Basketball Coach instead of Jim Harrick, if Vince Dooley had his way, but he lost control of the power struggle with UGA President Michael Adams.  Instead, Brey is at Notre Dame.

You’re Not Getting What You Think with Jeff Capel

Capel’s style of play is actually rather slow paced and it is not as dynamic as his mentor, Mike Krzyzewski.  The offense is usually above-average and the defense is typically inconsistent.  Capel could not win with three All-Americans and made bad staffing decisions.  Expecting him to change at Georgia is an act of faith rather than a decision made based on anything that is proven.

Mark Fox has had offenses that are just as efficient as Capel’s, which is rather shocking.  In fact, Capel’s offenses even with Blake Griffin were incoherent, lots of idle dribbling and not much movement without the ball.  In his final two seasons, the offense looked lost despite the talent on the floor.  Only in his first and last seasons in Norman did the offense finish in the top half of the country in Assists per Field Goals Made.  Oklahoma was only getting to the Free Throw Line with regularity in Blake Griffin’s final season at Oklahoma.  Defensively, Fox’s teams are usually better.  It’s not a proven, demonstrable change from the Mark Fox era, it is just a new face and Capel is not going to bring Georgia to the next level.

Capel wins a press conference, but his successors have done better than he has.  At VCU, Anthony Grant, Shaka Smart (made a Final Four) and Will Wade had more success than Capel.  At Oklahoma, Lon Kruger fixed Capel’s mess and brought the Sooners to the Final Four.

Don’t hire Jeff Capel.  Unless the plan is to fire him or let him go 4-5 years later so that the program goes to the Final Four under a different coach.